Community Health Improvements through Community Partnerships and Rigorous Evaluation
Sinai’s programs and community outreach are based on scientific health needs assessment surveys done by the urban epidemiologists of Sinai Urban Health Institute (SUHI). These researchers conducted the most comprehensive, door-to-door health needs assessment ever done in Chicago at the neighborhood level. Sinai shared the health assessment findings with local residents and community groups, forging interventional partnerships. With these community partners, Sinai confirmed the need for education and other interventions for asthma, obesity, diabetes and breast cancer.
Through its community-based asthma education interventions, Sinai demonstrated that for every $1 invested in community health educators, up to $14 in acute care services can be avoided. In human terms this means that families are less likely to seek emergency services for their asthmatic children because the asthma is better managed.
Sinai Community Institute (SCI) is a health system-based outreach organization with 28,000 clients per year participating in 25 different programs. All programs support the health and well-being of individuals and the community by focusing on women- infants- children, families, teens, and seniors. Ninety-five percent (95%) of SCI’s clients are low-income minority women and children. In many instances the programs provide life changing services by, for example, ending isolation for seniors, providing positive options instead of street options for teens, or teaching extremely young mothers how to care for their babies and graduate from high school.
Sinai Community Institute and Sinai Urban Health Institute have created a community educational series, “How Healthy is Your Zip Code,” which brings together healthcare specialists and community residents. Mount Sinai Hospital, Sinai Children’s Hospital, Sinai Medical Group, and Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital all support How Healthy is Your Zip Code sessions by providing clinicians and health educators for screenings, teaching, and to answer questions. These forums arm community participants with knowledge about the chronic diseases that can affect them and their family members.
Participants receive action plans for healthy lifestyles as well as information on recognizing signs and symptoms of the conditions that are prevalent in their specific communities (according to the research conducted by Sinai Urban Health Institute) and among their racial and ethnic peers.
Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital builds healthier communities through the In My Shoes Violence Prevention Program. In My Shoes educators, all former gang members and people with disabilities, most using wheel chairs, visit schools and community groups, explaining what gang membership is really like. The educators’ language is plain, direct and non-judgmental but it addresses what youthful audience members have never thought about: the possibility of living with a disability.
Stabilizing presence in a complex urban environment: community building
Irrespective of scarce resources, Sinai reaches out to the community, partnering with groups and individuals in reducing health disparities, improving health status and individual well-being. Sinai is mindful that giving patients “voice” means providing medical interpreter services and cultural sensitivity. Sinai Health System supports “Sinai Deaf Health ” a collection of language and culturally sensitive services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. This includes physicians, who are fluent in ASL, health fairs for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, ASL interpreters, IVIN (Interactive Video Interpreter Network) and health education.
As a teaching institution, Sinai prepares future healthcare professionals including bringing primary care physicians to underserved urban areas. As a community builder, Sinai facilitated the Chicago Housing Authority constructing mixed income, “green” rental housing. Through The Sinai Tomorrow Project, Sinai is bringing new and improved healthcare to the community along with the prospect of construction and healthcare jobs. With over 2,000 employees, Sinai is among the largest economic engines on Chicago’s West Side.